New Delhi: The government has created buffer stocks of 18 lakh tonnes of pulses so far and also decided to procure dals from farmers till April 22, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said today.
The government had decided to create 20 lakh tonnes of buffer stock through imports and local purchase, after pulses price crossed Rs 200 per kg in the retail market last year.
"We have extended the timeline for pulses procurement till April 22. But I have asked that procurement should be from farmers only and not traders," Paswan told reporters.
On the progress of buffer stock creation, the minister said 18.10 lakh tonnes of pulses have been purchased so far, of which 4 lakh tonnes have been through imports and 14 lakh tonnes via domestic purchase.
"We have disposed 96,000 tonnes of pulses from buffer stock so far. About 17 lakh tonnes pulses is still with us," Paswan said.
The minister said the earlier plan was to buy 10 lakh tonnes of pulses from overseas and rest from local market.
However, he said the government has bought more from domestic farmers in view of record production of dals this year. Talking about sugar, Paswan assured that "there is no shortage of sugar in the country" and 5 lakh tonnes of raw sugar import at zero duty has been permitted to boost supply in some states affected by drought.
"We had an opening stock of 77 lakh tonnes of sugar. Even as per production estimate of ISMA, which keeps changing its stand, the sugar production will be 203 lakh tonnes in 2016-17 taking the total availability to 280 lakh tonnes".
The annual domestic demand is estimated at 240-250 lakh tonnes, so the country has sufficient stock, he explained. Paswan said the government has extended the deadline for import of raw sugar till June-end from the current June 12.
Earlier this month, the government had allowed import at zero duty to boost domestic supply with production expected to decline sharply to 20 million tonnes in the current 2016-17 marketing year from 25 million tonnes in the previous year.
Sugar year runs from October to September. To ensure timely availability of sugar and to maintain domestic price at reasonable level, Paswan said importing mills/refineries have been told to convert raw sugar into white/refined sugar in two months.